WAM Director to retire in April

Woman smiling at the camera in front of a dark background

Wichita Art Museum Director Dr. Patricia McDonnell – Photo by Larry Schwarm

The Wichita Art Museum Board of Trustees announced today that Director Dr. Patricia McDonnell will resign April 1, 2022. McDonnell has led the museum for nearly 10 years as she steps down this spring.

During her tenure at WAM, McDonnell led the museum to new dynamism and achievement, attracting people from all walks of life to feisty events and art displays designed to resonate with Wichitans. Her accomplishments include:

  • Attendance increasing by more than 60 percent,
  • Expanded public programs growing by 100 percent,
  • Membership rising by 170 percent,
  • Expanding the art collection by one third, including these major acquisitions:
  • Bringing blockbuster exhibitions to Wichita—Monet to Matisse in 2018 and Georgia O’Keeffe: Art, Image, Style in 2019,
  • Creating the Art Garden in 2015, a $3.3 million project on the museum’s eight acres,
  • New renovation of interior public spaces in 2020, a nearly $1 million project,
  • Replacing the HVAC system for museum-quality climate control, a $2 million project,
  • Doubling annual gift income and increasing long-term resources by $6.5 million,
  • Launching an assessment to complete first Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Policy to institutionalize practices that ensure a sense of belonging for all WAM visitors.

“A transformation has occurred at WAM the past 10 years, and Patricia had the energy and vision to lead that transformation,” said Martha Linsner, Chair of the Board of Trustees. “This museum has never been more active or more welcoming and inclusive, and we have Patricia to thank for these achievements. We are wonderfully well-poised to attract a next great leader for the Art Museum,” she said.

In March, McDonnell will oversee completion of a major public art installation—artist Beth Lipman’s mammoth glass sculpture installed in the entry of the Boeing Foyer—and is eager to see the commission through to its impressive conclusion.

“I’ve now lived in Wichita longer than anywhere else in my life. I love it here, and I’ve found great reward–personal and professional–as I’ve helped to shape the personality at the Wichita Art Museum,” said McDonnell. “We’ve so wanted anyone and everyone to enjoy their experience at the museum, and we’ve found creative ways to bring more and more people from across the Wichita landscape through our doors. There is rich, life meaning in this work, and I am so grateful to the museum leadership for giving me the chance to live out this life dream as WAM’s director.”

Dr. McDonnell is available for media interviews. Call Teresa Veazey, public relations manager, at 316-268-4985 or email pr@wam.org. COVID-19 protocols remain in place at the museum, such as requiring facial masks for visitors, including those who have been vaccinated for the virus, and maintaining social distance between visitors who are not from the same household.